California fire losses push total to 479 structures

The Skirball fire prompted a full closure of the 405 Freeway and mandatory evacuations

The Skirball fire prompted a full closure of the 405 Freeway and mandatory evacuations

The Thomas Fire is the biggest in Los Angeles since the Bel Air fire in 1961 torched the homes of the rich and famous. As of Thursday evening, the fire had grown to 115,000 acres.

"These are days that break your heart but also days that shows the resilience of our city", he said.

Tens of thousands of people fled their homes, running from fires without any idea of when they could return or what they might find.

The groups' concerns have been aimed primarily at the Los Angeles Police Department, which has also been authorized by the Police Commission to begin a pilot program for using drones in select tactical situations.

The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District closed all of its schools Wednesday and Thursday. The evacuation order was later expanded, covering a large area bounded by Mulholland Drive to the north, Sunset Boulevard to the south, the 405 to the west and Roscomare Road on the east. Reporter Christina Salvo says the smoke is so thick on Casiano Drive that "we couldn't see the flames. we were seeing firefighters on peoples' balconies with firehoses trying to drench the vegetation below". "It's very sad", said one resident standing near the fence of a ranch in the rural area, where many horses have had to be evacuated.

"Extremely dry conditions and Santa Ana Winds will continue to elevate fire danger", Cal Fire said in a tweet. That blaze destroyed about 500 homes and led to various policy changes, including a prohibition on wood-shingle roofs and the strict requirement to remove brush from around properties. The 405 freeway was later reopened, transportation officials said. The company positioned fix crews and equipment in areas most likely to suffer wind damage.

About a dozen evacuation centers have been established due to various fires burning in the city, including at Delano Recreation Center, 15100 Erwin St., Van Nuys; Balboa RC, 17015 Burbank Blvd., Van Nuys; Sherman Oaks RC, 14201 Huston St., Sherman Oaks; and Westwood RC, 1350 Sepulveda Blvd., Westwood.

The Getty Center and the nearby Skirball Center, both on the west side of the freeway, did not appear to be threatened, though both remained closed Thursday.

A SigAlert was issued for the closure of all northbound lanes on the 405 Freeway just after 5 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol's traffic incident log.

The Creek fire, in the Kagel Canyon area above Los Angeles' Sylmar neighborhood, has scorched 12,605 acres of land and destroyed more than 30 buildings, authorities said.

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